I have been to a lot of hill stations and hills, some experiences good, some downright disappointing. However, Shimla never attracted me, rather it was never in my lost of hilly places to go, somehow I never associated this place with a hill station; it was more of a town for me.
So when I got the chance to visit Shimla on a official tour, i thought it was a good opportunity to see the popular hill station and town , dubbed “Queen of Hills”
For the uninitiated, Shimla (originally called Simla), is the capital city of Himachal Pradesh state in India. In 1864, Shimla was declared the summer capital of the British Raj in India.
Me and four of my colleagues took an express train from Delhi till Chandigarh and then onwards a car to Shimla.
The train journey was quite eventful, will rains lashing during the whole part of the journey, which led to one hour delay. The car ride was equally eventful, with rains following us in the hilly roads and at one point of time , the visibility reduced to zero.
Anyways, it was evening when we reached Shimla and as we had an important meeting to attend next day, all of us retired for the night. Before I went off to sleep, I enjoyed the first view of Shimla from my hotel room with a hot bowl of soup….it was lovely if not spectacular ambiance; the chilly weather, misty hills around and a hot bowl of soup in hand!!!
The next morning, I got up early and was greeted by cloudy sky and soon it was foggy all over, with heavy rains!!!….and I was like, great!!! This is just perfect for today’s meeting!!
All of my colleagues and me hurried up to attend the meeting, and it turned out quite well (Thank God for that!!).
After the meeting, when we came out, it was bright and sunny!!…That got all of us in a good mood and it was almost lunch time, we decided to check out mall road for a while, which is also where major restaurants are located.
The Mall Road is the central commercial and cultural hub of Shimla, built originally during pre-independence period by the British , who had made it their summer capital; it has a strong colonial feel.
All the major shops are located here and so are the major heritage buildings (some of which are also administrative offices till date) such as Town Hall, Himachal State Museum & Library, Post Office, Church, etc. Walking around the Mall Road and seeing the crowd and the buildings, I had a sense of deja vu, memories went back to the walk in Darjeeling Mall Road….
We also visited a famous temple, Jaku temple, not for religious reasons though, we had to check out some technicality regarding our project!!….it was steep climb up the hills and once there, we were greeted by hundreds of monkeys all around the temple!!
It felt a bit awkward , however, walking the mall road in full official attire!!
As evening approached, the clouds again came swirling down the hills and engulfed the town.
The next morning, sunshine greeted us!!! , however, we had to get back, but not before checking out some pathways around Shimla for our project, so we headed that direction early morning…and it was lovely 2 hours spent on hill roads(rather pathways!!) totally empty, greenery and silence all around us. I just enjoyed this nature walk to the fullest, away from all the din of vehicular traffic. And then it was time to head back to Delhi!!!
In a nutshell, I would say that I did not find Shimla as a hill station impressive, however, it still has a colonial charm of being the summer capital of the British and one of the original hills stations.